Post-Game Quotes and Video: Virginia Tech-Clemson

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Virginia Tech Head Coach Justin Fuente

Opening Statement

Congratulations to Clemson. They have a fine team; I think that tailback, Etienne, and the quarterback are the best two that they’ve ever had there. Those guys are really, really talented.

Obviously, our plan was to try to keep our defense off of the field and hold the ball as long as humanly possible. That didn’t mean we wouldn’t or couldn’t throw the ball, it just meant that we were going to try to limit the number of possessions. When you play like that, it can go a bunch of different ways. I thought that was our best chance to win and I still believe that.

As far as the quarterback situation, I’ll tell you what I know. On the first series, Hendon [Hooker] didn’t hold us in the huddle and he dropped the snap, so we took him out to settle him down for one series. We were only planning on having him settle down for one series, but Braxton [Burmeister] came in and led us to a touchdown, so we kept him in. Braxton got knocked out of the game and couldn’t go back in. We put Hendon back in and he dropped a snap. We were going to put him back in and the trainer came up to me and told me that he was cold. I don’t know if there was something more significant than that. I’ve never seen that before or heard of it before. I don’t know any more than that.

Knox [Kadum] went out there and competed his tail off. I was proud of the way he went out there and hung in there and competed. I have no idea what that means moving forward, but he did a good job going in there. Defensively, we had our hands full, but our guys competed their tails off. We tried to keep our guys fresh and off of the field and I thought that was beneficial.

On the last drive of the first half…

They had three timeouts also and they had just run through us like we weren’t even out there. My first thought was not to throw three straight incompletions and give them the ball right back. We ran the ball and busted one long run, so we took a chance to throw it in the endzone. I’d do it again playing these guys. If we were playing somebody else in a different situation, you can play it a bunch of different ways. When you watch those guys and they’ve got their timeouts, the first things is making sure your defense doesn’t have to take the field again with Trevor Lawrence and all that comes with that. We ran the ball, popped one out and took a shot into the endzone.

On Hendon Hooker…

He’s had some issues in the past with fumbling snaps. It’s kind of strange for him because he has great hand-eye coordination and big strong hands. Occasionally, he has had some issues with that. I didn’t feel like he was off or anything. I don’t know what to tell you.

On slowing down the offense…

Essentially, as the head coach, I say that I think this is our best chance to win the game and the rest of those guys go and iron out the details. It takes a little bit of work and practice. You don’t have a lot of time at the line of scrimmage to think about the way that Clemson calls their defense and the way that Venables does things. He wants to see the formation and where the backs are set and hold his call as late as possible. We eliminated all signals or most signals. We tried to get up there a little bit later and shift and motion to try and negate some of that. I thought it worked well for us, but you are taking a little bit of a risk there because you’re getting to the line of scrimmage with less time. You’re not getting to check and do some things that you historically have been able to do.

On Tre Turner…

He did not practice much this week. The plan was for him to dress and see how he felt. He was unable to go. If I was guessing, I would guess that he’d be good to go next week; he’s had two weeks, but I don’t know that for a fact.

On Brock Hoffman’s penalties…

I thought they were unforced errors, and you can’t have those when you play a team like this. I didn’t see either one, but I know that he had two penalties. He’s probably not very happy with me right now and I understand that, but we can’t do those things.

On Khalil Herbert…

I thought Khalil was good. He’s been really steady when he’s been healthy. He seems to be able to pick his way through there. He kind of likes to stop and go and stop and go, but he seems to be a pretty effective guy for us.

On defending Trevor Lawrence…

I think we did as well as could be expected. We tried to mix up the looks, but the problem, obviously, is that they can run the ball. Travis Etienne is different than everybody else on the field out there. I thought our guys competed their tails off. They were fresh when they were out there, and I thought the plan of keeping them fresh and letting us try to attack a little bit was sound. I’m kind of rambling here, I thought that we defended a few deep balls, but we let at least one get over our head.

On injuries to Christian Darrisaw and Silas Dzansi…

I don’t know what their statuses are. We were pulling guys out of the game. I asked Christian if he was okay and he said yes. I haven’t seen Silas yet, so I don’t think I have a great answer for you.

On Hendon Hooker’s injury…

In the middle of the game, I asked what the deal was. They said that he was cold and we’re dealing with it. I can’t give you more diagnosis than that. I don’t know if it was something serious or not serious. I just don’t know.

On James Mitchell returning punts…

We’ve been working quite a few people back there. Tre did it a couple of weeks ago and then he went down. We felt best about Kakavitsas and James. We’ve been working those guys and that’s who we put back there.

On Knox Kadum…

It’s an immense challenge, but Knox is a competitor. I’m sure he was nervous, but he went out there and competed. I’m really proud of him. We saw something in Knox in high school. He’s still developing, but I think as he continues to work and get better, he has a chance to be a productive Division I quarterback at Virginia Tech. I’m excited for his future. It was an odd situation for him, but it’s proved positive. You never know when they’re going to turn to you and throw you in there.

On whether the administration has faith in him and the coaching staff…

Certainly. I’m not going to tell you I feel great because we just lost, but I feel great about what we’re doing and where we’re going. The context of the season, you guys know it, I’m not going to sit up here and whine about that. I feel great and it’s time for us to get ready for Virginia.

On Braxton Burmeister…

He stepped up in the pocket and had that nice pass to Tayvion. For us to be productive, we’re going to have to stay on the chains, but we’re also going to have to hit some plays. To me, that was a pretty big play where he slid up in the pocket and hit Tayvion. I’ve felt good about Braxton for a long time. I feel good about him and his talent and what he can do playing ball.

Virginia Tech tight end James Mitchell
(Virginia Tech Athletics)

Virginia Tech Tight End James Mitchell

On slowing down the offense…

It was definitely different, but we knew that was what we wanted to do to put us in a position to win the game. I don’t think it was anything too challenging, but definitely different because we like to go a little faster.

On the quarterbacks getting hurt…

It obviously sucks when you have two quarterbacks go down. Knox did a good job stepping in and I’m very proud of that kid. I don’t know if he got any reps during the scouts because he was working scout team quarterback.

On returning punts…

That’s the first time live since senior year of high school. I’ve been working back there pretty much all year, but I didn’t know when my opportunity was going to come. It happened to be this week. They told me to be ready and that’s what I did.

On the mood in the locker room at halftime…

We were right there in it. We were executing our plan and what we wanted to do and were only down seven points at the half. We couldn’t ask for a better situation. If we had gotten that score, that would’ve been great too, but guys were energized and ready to get out there in the second half.

On the four-game losing streak…

It’s hard because guys are playing hard. Everybody is just battling right now and it’s tough with the way things are going. Guys are deflated because we’ve made some mistakes, but for a long time, we were right there.

On Hendon Hooker…

I didn’t get a chance to talk to him because I was trying to get adjustments and be there for the defense. I didn’t really get to see what was going on.

On trying to keep the ball away from Clemson’s offense…

I thought we did a great job of it. We limited their possessions and were only down by seven at the half. I thought we did a great job of executing the plan, especially in the first half.

Virginia Tech Tailback Khalil Herbert
(Virginia Tech Athletics)

Virginia Tech Tailback Khalil Herbert

On Hendon Hooker…

I was just trying to keep him up and keep him going. I just tried to help him stay warm when I came to the sideline.

On his performance…

I think the running game was working really well with the inside and outside zone. We just made some key mistakes that they were able to capitalize on.

On Hoffman’s penalties…

Those definitely impacted the drives. Those are things that we can’t have going forward. Brock knows that and he’s been really sorry about them. Those things happen in the game of football.

On the second half…

Our game plan was obviously working in the first half and we went to the second half only down by seven. Just coming out, we didn’t do the things we should’ve been doing. We weren’t holding the ball or protecting the ball. Those are things that we’ve done all season that we couldn’t do in this game. Clemson is a really good team and in a tight game, those things are big.

On staying motivated for next week…

It’s Virginia, so that says it all. Guys are ready for that. I don’t think we have to get everybody up for that because that’s a game that everybody gets up for.

On reaching 1,000 yards rushing…

Coming into the year, that was one of my personal goals. I had never done it before in my life playing football. That’s definitely something I wanted to accomplish.

On adjusting to new quarterbacks…

It’s not too difficult because we rotate guys in all week in practice. Guys are prepared and when Knox got in there, we just rallied around him. It’s stuff we do all week in practice.

On slowing down the tempo…

I’ve played in a couple of games like that when they have a really explosive offense and you’re just trying to keep the ball away from them. It wasn’t too difficult. We just huddled more, and they slowed us down so we could get comfortable and hold onto the ball.

On the way the season has turned…

It’s just one of those things where you have to just keep going. Nobody wants to be in this situation right now. Guys are obviously upset, but it’s just one of those things where you have to keep getting better to get a win next week and finish off strong.

On Hendon’s injury…

I couldn’t tell you, but he’s good in the locker room now.

Virginia Tech Safety Divine Deablo
(Virginia Tech Athletics)

Virginia Tech Safety Divine Deablo

On Clemson’s offense…

Talent-wise, I don’t think I’ve played anybody close to that. Miami would probably be the next closest. They have a lot of talent; they were really good, and we just didn’t play well enough.

On his interception…

This game, I was focused on disguising because I feel like he doesn’t see a lot of that. My job was just to be in the post, and I read his eyes to see the dig in the back of the endzone. I just made a play.

On the defense in the first half…

The main thing we focused on was just making it simple for the guys and executing. We also wanted to swarm to the ball. That was big too because they can’t make everybody miss.

On what changed after halftime…

Clemson did a good job of getting the ball back for them with fumbles and their defense just got off of the field. We have to be ready at all times, so we can’t blame it on fatigue. They just made more plays than us.

On the four-game losing streak…

I’m very surprised. If you would’ve told me that this was going to be our record at the beginning of the season, I wouldn’t have believed you. We’re down right now, but we just have to keep going and finish strong.

On whether COVID has affected the team…

Of course, COVID has had a big effect on us. I missed two weeks and when I came back, I was a little bit out of shape. I had to do extra after practice to get back to it, but definitely, COVID has a big effect on this team.

Virginia Tech Quarterback Knox Kadum
(Virginia Tech Athletics)

Virginia Tech Quarterback Knox Kadum

On going into the game…

I ran scout team this week. I was doing everything to help the defense, so last night, I met with a bunch of coaches and went over the game plan and everything we were going to do. I got it down as best as I could and was ready if my number was called. It was very unlikely, but that’s how it went.

On facing Clemson…

All that was going through my mind was to execute, follow the game plan and follow my assignments. I just wanted to do whatever I could to help the offense get first downs and move the ball.

On how much he was able to learn the offense this year…

I didn’t start running the scout team until Miami week. For the whole season, I’ve been working with the offense. We have guys like Hendon who have brought me along in my year and a half here. He’s met with me many times to help me learn this offense. I felt good about what we were calling and the things we were doing. It was pretty easy to pick up.

On whether there was any rust…

I think that first run kind of woke me up a little bit. I had been standing on the sideline for three quarters and it was a little cold, so I had to warm up. Like I said, I hadn’t been hit since my senior year, so that kind of just woke me up for the rest of the game.

On his performance…

There are always things to work on and things to get better at. I missed two throws; one was an open out and I just kind of hurried it and then I underthrew a go-ball to Raheem [Blackshear]. There’s always places to improve, but for my first time, I’m kind of happy with how it went.

On his first screen pass to Jalen Holston…

It definitely took something off of my shoulders. It slowed me down a little bit because I was like a deer in the headlights on those first few plays. That kind of calmed me down and from there on, the reads and everything slowed down. It was good and he really helped me out on that one.

On his conversation with Hooker…

He just told me that he was really proud of me for stepping into that situation. He’s always seen the potential and is just happy that I got my shot.

On Hooker’s injury…

I’m not too sure on that situation. I think he’s just a little banged up and something is going on with his hand. He’s a tough dude and I look up to him. He’s taken hit after hit for the last two years and he gets right back up, so I think he’ll be good and ready to go for next week.

On who he leaned on when learning the offense…

Offensively, it’s been Hendon and Quincy [Patterson]. I’ve been with them for the past two years and they took me under their wing like a little brother. They helped me in every way and every aspect to learn the keys and rules on every play. I think the big thing for me coming in was learning the multiple defenses, especially when we had Coach Foster with the multiple things he did. There were so many things that I just didn’t see. Caleb Gelsomino did a great job of helping me with defenses. There’s always something to learn, so I’m always with him. He’s a great guy, super smart and he has a high football IQ. He’s really helped me a lot.

On his commitment to Tech…

It was all in about a couple of days. I committed to JMU about two weeks before signing day and was pretty locked in and then after my official, I committed two or three days later. I had talked to Coach Vice multiple times and he said that Coach Corn wanted to talk to me. He came down a few days later and we did a workout at my high school. We worked out and he offered me right after. I came on my official and once you see this place, it’s a no-brainer.

On his workout with Coach Cornelsen…

It was baseball season, so it wasn’t the best workout, but there were good things and things he saw that I needed to work on. We’ve hit that since I got here. It wasn’t the best workout, but he took a chance on me and I’m going to make the most of it.

On his recruitment…

Coach Vice and Coach Davidson both started talking to me my sophomore year. It was kind of an on-off thing because they just didn’t have room to make an offer. They still had Josh [Jackson], Ryan [Willis], Quincy and Hendon. They had plenty of guys and depth and didn’t need anyone from my class. Then, all that happened with the transfer portal stuff and that’s when it all blew up.

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2 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Good Read. I’ve had my difficulties with Fuente’s behavior for 3 years now – Head coach has to sell, sell to recruits, sell to donors, win the press. Fuente has done poorly there. None the less, I like the guy to some degree and hope he wins with us next year. I like a lot of his players, just missing too many parts.

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